• September 15, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

An endless summer of takes on the season

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019 10:30 am

Summertime, and the livin’ ... you fill in the blank.

In the spirit of easy, a loose concept of summer was offered to artists for the LIC Arts Open’s current group show at its Gallery at The Factory in Long Island City.

“Summer” was left wide open for the artists to interpret, said LIC Arts Open Executive Director Richard Mazda. Like the season itself.

More than 70 artists submitted paintings, sculpture, mixed media, photography and works in other media, a hallmark of LIC Arts Open shows, according to Gabriella Mazza, the production coordinator.

Caro Zola’s “Detritus #4, or 137 cigarette butts I found on my roof” is a sculpture on wire, constructed just as the title promises. Zola said she did, in fact, find the cigarettes on the roof of her apartment in Brooklyn, some of them contributed by herself.

Although an individual discarded cigarette butt might not be classically beautiful — they are soiled, uneven, unbalanced — Zola noticed the various states of decay and color in each. The finished piece could be seen as a random shape, but it bears a less-than-vague resemblance to the human heart.

A classically trained ballerina who studied linguistics and anthropology at Barnard and who works as a floral artist, Zola noticed in her industry the massively wasteful practices of discarding materials. This started her off on “thinking about how I could create something living and dynamic and beautiful out of that,” Zola said. She used exclusively recycled and found materials.

Federico Brognoli’s “Self-portrait in red,” in the deepest red of an August rose, could be thought of as the concatenated self-image of introspective summer musings. Brognoli trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Italy and eventually moved to New York.

“Gender Fluid” is also a headshot sculpture of self-expression by the nongender-fluid artist. The half-silver, half-deep lavender bust of a head came out of Brognoli’s delight that, in the culture of the moment, a cisgendered person such as himself is freer than ever before to manifest personality traits and behaviors that have been traditionally been presented as either “female” or “male.”

“Everybody is free to define how they feel,” Brognoli said. He placed emphasis on the “every” in “everybody.”

From across the room, the works of Gary Schwartz present as photography. But they are, in fact, acrylic paintings that resulted from an excruciatingly detailed process of photorealism. Schwartz uses an epidioscope — known to decades of children schooled prior to the 1990s as an opaque projector — that displays opaque materials and projects them, using a very bright light, onto a wall or screen.

To prep the photos, Schwartz described a process in which he plays with them for a good long time using Photoshop software, applying a prodigious variety of screens and special effects. It’s easy to imagine Schwartz, an art teacher at York Prep in Manhattan, slipping into memories of endlessly free youthful summer days as he works, and goofs around, with the pictures.

Eventually, he chooses those he likes, projects them, draws out the lines in the photos using a pencil, and then paints them. The result is a stunningly luminescent work that appears to have captured in photography the unworldly colors of one of those glorious morning-’til-sunset days baking at the beach.

Richard Carter, a photo retoucher who visited the opening reception for the exhibit to see the work of his friend Pesya Altman, said he looks at art first for his own impressions, to see what he thinks the artist was after. But he particularly enjoys the next step: hearing the artist tell what he or she meant to say. He said he loves the honesty of Altman’s work.

Altman herself manifests summer in the work displayed as a result of her lived life, in Israel, Iceland and many other countries ... but more to the point, a life lived alternately on boats and on land.

That’s summer.

When: Through Fri., July 26
Where: The Factory, 30-30 47 Ave., Long Island City
Entry: (718) 361-7633,

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